Four out of five people experience back pain at some point in their lives, from either sitting badly, slouching, or injuring themselves. Back pain accounts for half of all chronic pain and is the main cause of work absenteeism.
The construction industry reports the highest number of back pain-related injuries. Although it only accounts for 5% of the UK’s workforce, it reports 27% of all workplace fatalities. Lifting, pulling and pushing, carrying and manual handling are the main causes of back injury.
Movement can cause injury, but lack of movement is equally as dangerous. One of the biggest causes of back pain is sitting down for too long. Many of us now lead sedentary lifestyles at our desks, commuting on the train or spending our leisure time glued to the television and the Internet. The best way to prevent back pain is to keep active by incorporating movement into your day. Neil Osborne, AECC’s clinical director, offers the following advice for keeping active at work:
- Move your printers, telephones and filing cabinets away from your desk so you’re forced to get up and walk back and forwards throughout the day.
- Offer to make everyone tea – this gives you a chance to get up and move about the kitchen. While you are waiting for the kettle to boil, do a few simple arm and shoulder stretches. Not only will it boost your ability to concentrate, but it will also loosen tight muscles that could lead to back pain.
Studies show that pain is also deeply psychological. Of course, when you’re living a life in constant agony it doesn’t help to be told it’s all in your head. But, as impossible as it may seem, brain scans do show that concentrating on pain can make it worse, and even strengthen the pain signals so the brain learns to generate more pain.
There are lots of therapies available to treat back pain. To explore more, please visit our Therapies Topics section.
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